Wednesday, 28 September, 2022
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Colombia's first-ever leftist president sworn in

Colombia's first-ever leftist president sworn in

Ex-guerrilla and former mayor Gustavo Petro will be sworn in Sunday as Colombia's first-ever leftist president, with plans for profound reforms in a country beset by economic inequality and drug violence.

The former senator, 62, takes over from the deeply unpopular Ivan Duque for a four-year term during which he will enjoy support from a left-leaning majority in Congress. Petro's hard-fought victory in June elections brought Colombia, long ruled by a conservative elite, into an expanding left-wing fold in Latin America that could be consolidated in October with a likely victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil.

At a ceremony in Bogota on the eve of his inauguration, Petro said his government would aim to "bring to Colombia what it has not had for centuries, which is tranquility and peace."

Almost 40 percent of Colombia's 50 million people live in poverty, while 11.7 percent are unemployed. Inflation reached 10.2 percent year-on-year in July. On Monday, a preparatory commission set up by Petro said he was inheriting "a level of indebtedness and fiscal deficit that... is critical."

According to the Indepaz peace research institute, there are 90 armed groups with some 10,000 members active in Colombia, the world's largest cocaine producer.

Petro has proposed allowing armed groups to hand themselves over in exchange for some form of amnesty.

He will be inaugurated at 3:00 pm local time (2000 GMT) in front of a host of international guests. Colombian presidents serve only one term.